BALTIMORE—Catholicdioceses around the country will soon be involved in an intensive consultationand missionary effort called the FifthNational Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry. Drawing inspiration fromPope Francis, the theme of the V Encuentro is Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God's Love. The main goal of theV Encuentro is to discern ways for the Church in the United States to betterrespond to the ever-growing Hispanic presence, and to help Hispanics Catholicsto strengthen their Christian identity and their response as missionarydisciples for the entire Church.
TheEncuentro starts at the grass-roots level and calls for the development of resourcesand initiatives to better serve the fast-growing Hispanic population indioceses, parishes, ecclesial movements, and other Catholic organizations andinstitutions while at the same time promoting the development of Latinoleadership within the Church.
"TheFifth Encuentro is a time of grace", said Bishop Nelson Pérez, auxiliary bishopof Rockville Centre, New York, and chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee onHispanic Affairs. "It is a great opportunity for the Church to reach out to ourHispanic brothers and sisters with Christ's message of hope and love. It is atime to listen, a time to develop meaningful relationships, a time learn andbear abundant fruits, and a time to rejoice in God's love."
BishopPerez's report on the V Encuentro to the Fall General Assembly of CatholicBishops in Baltimore, November 15, serves as the official launching of this wide-rangingUSCCB initiative, which will start in parishes and dioceses across the countryduring early 2017 and continue for several years. After the parish, diocesanand regional phases of consultation, reflection and missionary activity areconcluded, the process will reach its zenith at the National V Encuentro gatheringto be celebrated in late September of 2018 in the Fort Worth area, with approximately3,000 delegates from participating dioceses across the country. After that, atime for reflection on the findings, identification of good ministerialpractices and implementation strategies at the local level will follow.
Morethan one million Catholics are expected to directly participate in the processat different stages and many more will be touched by the missionary activity ofthe participants. Over 150 U.S. dioceses have already formed local teams inpreparation for the V Encuentro process and numerous others are expected todesignate them soon.
"Ihave been formed by the process of Encuentro as a pastor and as a bishop", saidBishop Perez. "I participated in theThird National Encuentro in the 80's, and was very active in its implementationas a pastor. Today I have the blessing of being a part of the V Encuentro as abishop and look forward to the many fruits it will bring to dioceses andparishes across the country."
TheV Encuentro will especially engage Latino young people and families, and invitethem to share their gifts and talents with people in their parishes and insociety.
"Hispanics/Latinosare a great gift to the church and society in the Unites States. The VEncuentro is designed to engage, embrace and empower that gift", saidArchbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio and chairman of the USCCBCommittee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, which is responsible for thisinitiative on behalf of the U.S. bishops.
TheCenter for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) estimates that 30.5 millionHispanics/Latinos in the United States self-identify as Catholic. Currently,approximately 60% of U.S. Catholics under the age 18 are of Hispanic/Latinoheritage.
Keywords:USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting,Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, Committee on Cultural Diversity in theChurch, cultural diversity, multicultural, Hispanic, Latino, Bishop NelsonPérez, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, FifthNational Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, Pope Francis, V Encuentro,Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God's Love, missionary, evangelization
Norma Montenegro Flynn
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